This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Florist's Lush Inner City Garden

Gardens

Florist Sean Cook, of Mr Cook, has lived a long love affair with plants!

Only two years ago, Sean’s Sydney garden was a trashed construction site. Transformed by famed landscape designer Richard Unsworth, today we tour the lush oasis!

7th May, 2018

Sean  Cook didn’t want flowers in his garden, he wanted texture and lots of green. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Sean loves pots! Most of these pots are either from Garden Life or sourced from Sean in his travels. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

The zig zag cactus (Selenicereus chrysocardium) creates a dramatic effect draping down concrete retaining walls and contrasting with the upright foliage of mother-in-laws tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) behind. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Sean Cook and Michael Bright’s inner city Sydney garden connects seamlessly to the house. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Florist Sean Cook in the garden with Oskar and Hooper. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Bluestone steppers planted with native violet (Viola hederaceae) and kidney weed (Dichondra repens) provide a simple foil for abundant greenery. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Sean stumbled across this striking cactus (Cereus peruvianus ‘Monstrose’) whilst on a buying trip for a floristry job. Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Plectranthus (Plectranthus ciliatus cvs.). Photo – Daniel Shipp.

Georgina Reid
Monday 7th May 2018

‘It’s all a bit wild, and crazy and generous.’ – Sean Cook.

‘Plants and flowers are my medium. I love their colours, textures and form,’ says florist Sean Cook. We’re sitting in the living room of his Redfern home, embraced by bright white walls dripping with art. It’s a colourful and exuberant space, and whilst the art is incredible, the garden is where my eyes settle. It’s one big, green, artwork.

Sean and his partner Matthew Bright bought the property around five years ago. They soon undertook a major renovation on the house, and one day, upon arriving on site to check on the construction progress, they realised what had existed of the previous garden was completely trashed. ‘We decided then and there that we needed to do it properly and start right away, whilst the construction was going on. I have known landscape designer Richard Unsworth of Garden Life for a long time, and at that time his shop was just around the corner. ‘I called him and said, “Richard come down and help!”‘

‘Our brief to Richard was to keep it very loose and natural. We wanted stairs leading out from the house and I wanted a mirror on the back wall and a fishpond.’ Unlike the multi-coloured nature of the house interior, Sean wanted a monotonal garden. ‘I wanted an all green garden. There’s lots of colour in the house and I wanted the garden to counterbalance its exuberance. Also, I love green. Green and pink are my two favourite colours.’

Sean came to plants via school holiday visits to his grandmother in Parkes, in central western NSW. ‘She had a fernery attached to her house and it was such a magical place. There were native orchids and ferns and hoyas, and a pond filled with tadpoles. I suppose that’s where my love affair with plants and gardening started,’ he says.

Picking flowers from the backyard of his childhood home in Strathfield for his primary school teachers was the next step in Sean’s plant evolution. ‘I used to make bouquets for my teachers from our garden. What a crawler I was! I stopped giving my teachers flowers in high school, though. I couldn’t wait to leave.’

It’s inevitable, then, that Sean ended up as a florist. After working in visual merchandising and events, he cut his floral teeth with Saska Havekes of Grandiflora for 14 years, before starting his own business, Mr Cook, seven years ago. He tells me he loves the theatre of creating big installations, and the beauty and exuberance flowers and plants can bring to a space.

His garden, whilst relatively flower free, has a similar sense of energy and drama. ‘It’s all a bit wild, and crazy and generous,’ he says. He loves collecting pots and plants in his wanderings, and seems to always be able to fit just one more plant in, particularly if it’s got meaning. ‘My grandmother had a big staghorn in her fernery, so when Richard sent me a photo of another gorgeous one, we had to find a space for it. I already had two, but I needed to find a home for it.’

The garden is now two years old. ‘I can’t believe how much it’s grown! It’s surprisingly self-maintaining, though I do love pottering around in it,’ Sean says. His garden is a great example of the value of creating an oasis of green in the inner city.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Gardens

David Whitworth

An anecdotal guide to hiding your 'ghetto garden'.
Georgina Reid

Gardens

Owen Harris

A lush rooftop garden in inner city Fitzroy.

Gardens

The Bondi Garden Of Landscape Designer William Dangar

The well-known landscape designer's abundant Sydney garden - encased in lush foliage!
Georgina Reid

This Week

TDF Collect

Announcing Our Next Exhibition, Elizabeth Barnett's 'Blue'

A new body of work from Macedon artist Elizabeth Barnett, opening Saturday April 27th at our Collingwood gallery.

Homes

A Family Rental With Real Heart

The Caufield Californian bungalow of interior designer Sara Levitas, her Rabbi husband Noam, and family.

Architecture

A Spectacular Unfolding House Overlooking Sydney Harbour

A minimalist marvel with serious harbour views, by Matthew Woodward Architecture in Vaucluse, Sydney.
Miriam McGarry

Dream Job

From Intern to Senior Landscape Designer – Growing A Career At Eckersley Garden Architecture

26-year-old Joshua Cocks charts his journey from University intern to working across award-winning projects, with one of Australia's top fir...
Elle Murrell
  18 hours ago
01:01:05

Podcast

TDF Talks With Chef-Turned-Sustainable-Farmer Paul West

A surprisingly hilarious chat with the River Cottage Australia host, covering his atypical career path, and his philosophies on living a mor...

News

The Bold And Brilliant Exhibition ‘Fashioning Black Identity’

African and African diaspora fashion, photography and portraiture at Cairns Art Gallery.
Miriam McGarry

Food

Alice Zaslavsky's Gefilte Fish Fritters

There’s no Passover dish that sparks more of a reaction than gefilte fish, so today we share the perfect 'gateway' recipe!
Alice Zaslavsky

Architecture

Hello 2019 Victorian Architecture Awards Shortlist

Celebrating design longevity with the State’s top residential architecture projects.
Elle Murrell

News

WIN $500 To Spend At The New Australian HAY Online Store!

You could win $500 to spend at this just-launched e-shop for the Danish design icons, thanks to Cult!

News

Free To Feed’s Annual Fundraising Bake Sale Is On This Friday!

Do something GREAT this Good Friday and help raise funds for a worthy cause!
Sally Tabart

Art

'Mirka For Melbourne' Fundraiser Exhibition Opens At Heide

Mirka for Melbourne' opens this week, showcasing important acquisitions from the studio of Mirka Mora, funded by your donations!

Art

Charting A Contemporary Artist’s Remarkable Oeuvre

Spanning almost four decades, Rosslynd Piggott’s ‘I sense you but I cannot see you’ is on now at NGV.
Elle Murrell
  10 hours ago

Studio Visit

Carving Out A New Career With Courtney Petley

The New Zealand based designer and maker shares her handcrafted kitchen utensils, created with reclaimed timber.
Miriam McGarry

Architecture

A Thoroughly Tactile Terrace

Bringing new light and life to a narrow North Fitzroy home, with Olaver Architecture.
Miriam McGarry

News

Ebony Truscott's Modern Day Masterpieces

A stunning exhibition of still-life paintings on now in Collingwood.
Sally Tabart

Similar Stories

Gardens

David Whitworth

An anecdotal guide to hiding your 'ghetto garden'.
Georgina Reid

Gardens

Owen Harris

A lush rooftop garden in inner city Fitzroy.

Gardens

The Bondi Garden Of Landscape Designer William Dangar

The well-known landscape designer's abundant Sydney garden - encased in lush foliage!
Georgina Reid